No doubt about it the A’s are in a major transition phase in the franchise’s history. It’s no secret the A’s are in a quagmire of bureaucracy and politics that has put the fate of the franchise in flux. But when it boils down to it, it’s still baseball, and that ultimately is what brings us all back. So it seemed appropriate that all 5 of the members of the Swingin’ A’s page share their official predictions for the 2012 season. We will each answer 4 burning questions:
-What will their record be?
-What place will they finish in the AL West?
-What constitutes a successful season?
-Who/what is the key to success?
Editor, Joseph Lopez
2012 Record: 81-81, 3rd Place
What constitutes a successful season? While I have been rather critical of the Athletics in recent years for their seemingly lifeless lineup, I do expect the A’s to surprise a few people this year en route to a .500 record and a third-place finish in the stacked AL West. Stockpiling on the young talent started way back in 2007, but Billy Beane’s initial youth-movement didn’t pan out exactly the way he had envisioned. That failure, though, is partially Beane’s fault. He’s proved in the past that he’s been inconsistent with his rebuilding efforts with the Matt Holliday trade serving as the best example of his inconsistency. Now that he’s basically demolished the foundation of his once promising starting rotation with the trades of Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, the A’s will essentially start from square one…again. If Beane sticks with his rebuilding plan this time around and the young talent shows promise, a .500 record is not out of reach.
Who/what is the key to success? Billy Beane & the young pitching staff. Beane needs to stick to the plan this time around and focus solely on the development of his young team. There is absolutely no need to rush any of the players acquired in the Cahill, Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey deals. The A’s are not expected to compete for a playoff spot this year, so rushing guys like Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Michael Choice, or Grant Green doesn’t make much sense for the green-and-gold. The young pitching staff, which is headed by veterans Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon, will also be the key to success for the Athletics in 2012. Guys like Tom Milone could, in more ways than none, help make a lasting impact on the team’s starting rotation this year. Offensively, I guess the A’s would like to see some flashes of greatness from Yoenis Cespedes, whom the A’s locked up with a four-year, $36 million contract this past offseason. The development of the young pitching talent, though, should be a top priority for the Athletics this year.
Staff Writer, Jason Leary
2012 Record: 75-87, “Dead last”
What constitutes a successful season? I would never say I want the A’s to lose, but in the first year of a new rebuild I’m just fine with seeing losses pile up if the team develops young players on the way to getting a high draft pick for a lousy 2012 record. I’d be able to look back on 2012 and call it a successful season if Billy Beane and Co. can cash in trade chips like Brandon McCarthy, Kurt Suzuki, and Grant Balfour and prospects such as Michael Choice, Sonny Gray, Derek Norris, and Grant Green earn callups by the end of the year.
Who/what is the key to success? Since I’m defining success as the A’s developing young players while taking major hits in the loss column, keys to success would be players such as Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, etc. slowly growing into solid, and in some cases, spectacular everyday Major Leaguers. Another key to success that’s been lacking in Oakland for several years is good health. A steady recovery from Tommy John surgery by Brett Anderson will go a long way toward putting him back on track to being one of the best young pitchers in the American League.
I’d love to see a young, promising, last-place A’s team finally fire on all cylinders after a rough year and play well from Sept. 18 through Sept. 28. That’s when the club faces the potentially playoff-bound Tigers, Yankees, and Rangers and a strong showing by the A’s against some of the best teams in baseball would offer hope that this rebuild is on the right track with the potential to pay off far sooner than many people expected.
Staff Writer, David Spencer
2012 Record: 73-89, Good enough (tongue-in-cheek) for a last place finish
What constitutes a successful season? A season like this is wonderful in one aspect; you can only be successful. If the season is used properly, you know can see what you truly have as a team and who is expendable. If had had to say one thing that would signal a successful season, I would say a top five draft pick for next years draft.
Who/what is the key to success? As we all know by now the off-season was one filled with trades for younger prospects and the inability to resign the one major offensive weapon they had last year. While some of these prospects they got in return are extremely young and will have no impact on the team, others will make themselves known immediately. Losing Sizemore at third may not have necessarily hurt the offense, but it didn’t help it either. If Donaldson and Sogard to keep a modicum of offensive production going, that will certainly help lessen the blow of losing him. The situation at first is going to be a complete unknown. The three options over there, though, can only afford more offense than the A’s saw last year at that position. The pitching will see a regression from last year, mainly because of the arms filling the holes left from last season just can not play up to the run prevention of last year. The outfield is going to be the best aspect of this team. Between the good defenders that will see most of the playing time, the possible offensive production will be the savior of this squad.
Staff Writer, Devin Pangaro
2012 Record: 84-78, 3rd Place
What constitutes a successful season? This year has to be about growth and positivity. With the stadium issue and the team’s future very much out of their control, A’s fans need something to feel good about. While I’m not envisioning some type of Major League scenario, I do think this team has the potential to play exciting, competitive baseball and if they can leave it all on the field and play to their potential I believe a winning season is not out of the question. Rookies such as Yoenis Cespedes and Tom Milone will have to mature at a fast rate, and veterans like Manny Ramirez and Bartolo Colon will have to stay healthy and productive in order for the A’s to even smell a pennant race.
Who/what is the key to success? Brandon Allen. Ah thought I say Cespedes didn’t you? If Cespedes proves to be overmatched by breaking balls and is in need of seasoning in Triple A, the A’s have the clientele in the outfield in Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Seth Smith, Johnny Gomes, and Colin Cowgill to pick up the slack without an issue. However if Allen bombs at first base, a position the A’s desperately need production from they will be trouble. Allen has to prove that he can make the necessary adjustments that he failed to make late last season when the strikeouts began to add up and the power numbers decreased. He’s not expected to go out and hit 40 homers, but he has the power to hit 20+ and the A’s need to get that from him.
Staff Writer, Sean Davis
2012 Record: 79-83, 3rd Place
What constitutes a successful season? The Oakland Athletics simply need to right the ship. In 2011, they were a sexy pick to win the AL West by some, and they came up miserably short. As a result, Billy Beane sold off 3 All Stars for prospects and we found ourselves staring another rebuilding process right in its ugly face. Now the team is supposedly building towards contention around a theoretical new stadium grand opening in 3 or 4 years. But right now, development from key position players like Brandon Allen and Josh Reddick, and continued success from Jemile Weeks are paramount. A season from Yoenis Cespedes that simply shows he won’t be a bust is ideal, few expect All Star numbers out of the gate, but flashes of his 5 tools are extremely important. The A’s are hopeful that new hitting coach Chili Davis can accomplish those tasks, and I think he will.
Who/what is the key to success? Fundamentals. The A’s showed serious promise in 2010 that led to the raised expectations for 2011, their defense was exceptional, in 2011 that promise went away in part due to major regression in that department. The A’s simply are not talented enough to make mistakes in the field, or on the basepaths and expect to win games. A rebound season from Kurt Suzuki is also crucial, he has looked good so far and can emerge as a true leader this year.
Clearly whether it’s looking through green and gold shaded glasses, or the simple fact we think we know our team better than the experts, our expectations for this team are higher than most. A majority of baseball minds seem to think the A’s are destined for at least 90 losses, and a secure spot in the cellar. The A’s had an extremely successful Spring Training on the field, and of course those numbers truly don’t mean anything once the regular season starts, but their confidence has to have been boosted by their success. I’m not expecting a Cinderella story from the 2012 A’s, but perhaps a fleeting glance from Prince Charming from across the ballroom.